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James Franco for Sotheby's
via YouTube

Watch James Franco’s gooey, Italian sculpture-inspired film

The artist reimagines the works of famous Italian Renaissance artist family, the Della Robbias, to create living icons

James Franco has shared his take on Italian Renaissance sculpture and ceramics in a gooey short film.

The 4-minute video is a visual response to the Italian Renaissance ceramics of Glazed: The Legacy of The Della Robbia for auction house Sotheby’s Artist Response series. The sculptures are on display through to November 18. 

Clear goo pours over posed models, which recall the works of the Della Robbias, who were known for their religious and secular works of varnished clay. Franco, an artist, actor, filmmaker and musician, was asked by the auction house to reinterpret the classic works. One is dressed and mimicking the style of the virgin Mary in The Annunciate Virgin, a sculpture by Andrea della Robbia in the 16th century. Another reflects Giovanni della Robbia’s Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Blessing, clothed in sheepskin and raising his hands. There’s also a man surrounded by a lemon wreath, in homage to a coat of arms produced by Marco della Robbia.

Speaking of the collection, which includes 19 sculptures by the Italian family of artists, Franco said: “For centuries, sculpture has been used decoratively and as iconography. The Della Robbia family created sculptures that take on both of those roles.”

“I was immediately struck by the vibrancy and shine of the glaze of the Della Robbia sculptures in this show, especially the human forms frozen in time as icons. To mimic and modernise these sculptures, I wanted to create living icons emphasising the glazing process,” he added. “I filmed them in slow motion so the viewer relishes in the passage of time and can imagine the tangible feeling of the liquid covering each living sculpture.”

Watch the film below.